It was supposed to be a routine trip for Mark and Avry St. Peter, who returned to their native northwest Kansas last week to visit family and friends for the solar eclipse. Their stay likely will be extended by at least a week, as the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey are wreaking havoc in their new hometown of Conroe, Texas, a suburb just north of Houston.
The family — preparing to serve as missionaries in Haiti — was planning to begin the nearly 12-hour drive home Monday. Now, it could be at least next Monday, as the flood waters are probably about 1 mile away from their apartment, Avry St. Peter said.
The family is prayerful the water will avoid their property, as they live on higher ground. But many of their friends have been evacuated. Water is being released from the dam of nearby Lake Conroe, which is increasing the chance of flooding in more residential neighborhoods, she said.
“There are lots of different people that we are friends with, that we work with, that are now being evacuated,” she said. “We’re looking at some of the pictures, and just before we came home, we ate at that restaurant, we drove down that road. And now it’s completely destroyed.”
The family is thanking God they already were back in Kansas and well out of harm’s way before the storm began.
“It’s not by accident at all,” she said.
Power outages also have been common in the area as the result of the storm, and the family has been warned to bring their own groceries from Kansas when they do return.
Supplies likely will be in short supply, as Houston — the fourth-largest American city — is largely cut off by high water. Many roads are impassable, and airports remained closed as of Monday evening.
“There’s no groceries; the power’s going out,” St. Peter said. “So even if we were there, we would have to leave because of those reasons.”
Watching the news coverage also has been especially difficult for Jesse Johnson Jr., a Houston native who now lives in Hays. He still has many relatives and friends in the area, and said Monday evening he has been able to speak with his parents, who are OK.
There are some extended family members, however, that his parents haven’t yet heard from, possibly due to poor cellphone reception at times.
“That’s the scary part about it — when you’re 12 hours away and there’s nothing you can do about that,” he said. “All you can do is pray that everything’s OK.”
And praying, he and his family have been doing. A cousin shared a harrowing experience of being forced to walk through neck-deep flood waters to reach the safety of his apartment after his car stalled. He managed to arrive safely, praying all the while, he said.
It’s difficult, Johnson said, to see familiar roads and landmarks flooded in the news or in photos posted by his loved ones on social media. He had been hoping to pay a visit to his hometown for Thanksgiving.
“That’s what makes it pretty interesting, to just have those visual memories,” Johnson said. “How is the city of Houston going to look after all this is said and done?”